What We Saw at the US-Mexico Border

By Lisa Friedman, Sharyn Goodson, and Tzivia Schwartz Getzug

On June 2–4, Jewish Funders Network and HIAS brought a delegation of funders and foundation professionals to bear witness to the situation, deepen our knowledge, sharpen our analysis of the issues, and strategize Jewish communal responses. Below, JFN members Lisa Friedman (Founding Director, Lisa and Maury Friedman Foundation) and Sharyn Goodson (Vice President, Philanthropy & Organizational Development, Leichtag Foundation), along with JFN West Coast Director Tzivia Schwartz Getzug, share what they saw.

Many American Jews, awakened to the current refugee crisis and moved to do more, are becoming part of the Jewish response to refugees. HIAS has a Take Action for Asylum Seekers page which gives people different ways to advocate, donate, volunteer, and learn more.

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Now is the Time to Do More to Fight Jewish Poverty

By Jewish Funders Network and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

The number of people living in low-income Jewish households in New York has doubled over the past two decades. And many more Jewish families around the country say they are struggling to make ends meet.

The challenges posed by Jewish poverty are substantial (click here to access an overview of what we know about Jewish poverty in the United States). The question that we have been asking at the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation: what can we do about it?

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In Defense of The Why: Judaism Needs a Mission

Cross-posted to eJewish Philanthropy.

One of the things that make my job at JFN so rich and interesting is the debates, even arguments, that we have within our staff. I love those, because they challenge me, they make me learn, and, above all, I know these arguments are “for the sake of Heaven”—meant not to make a point, but to make a difference.

In that vein, my colleague Seth Chalmer shared with me an article he wrote and asked for my opinion. We both thought that the debate was rich and decided to share it with you. Of course, you are also invited to chime in! 

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Just Jew It: Against Giving Reasons for Living a Jewish Life

Cross-posted to eJewish Philanthropy.

It’s not uncommon, in Jewish communal circles, to hear it claimed that the central question for our profession today is, “Why be Jewish?”

In an age of free choice and self-constructed identities, this argument goes, the Jewish community can no longer count on individuals to affiliate themselves and participate, so individuals must be given compelling reasons for Jewish engagement.

I want to suggest that this is wrong. Giving any answer to the question “Why be Jewish?” is a bad tactic in service of a worse idea.

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Shira Ruderman: What does it take to create a legacy? (Funder Stories)

Shira Ruderman explains why we shouldn't confuse money with legacy, and why legacy should matter to all funders.

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Scott Berrie: To make change, look farther upstream (Funder Stories)

Scott Berrie shares the moving story of his father's legacy, his father's death, and how his family has shifted their philanthropy in order to move from treating symptoms to addressing the entire ecosystem.

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Shula Mozes: Giving is easy; talking about giving is hard. (Funder Stories)

Welcome to the first in a series of Funder Stories videos produced in partnership with ELI Talks. JFN members recorded these personal stories about what giving means in their lives at the JFN 2019 International Conference.

Shula Mozes explains why giving is easy, why talking about giving is more uncomfortable, and why we have to talk about it anyway.

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A Person on Two Missions? Funders as Board Members of Grantee Organizations

By Alicia S. Oberman and Andrés Spokoiny.

Cross-posted with eJewish Philanthropy.

Many people in the Jewish community play two roles at once for the same organization: funder and board member.

What could possibly be problematic, or even noteworthy, about that? The funder and the organization both ostensibly share the desire to do the same kind of good in the world, and they’re joining forces. The dual role allows the funder to provide the organization not only money but also skills, time, effort, and wisdom, helping the organization to do the work.

But what happens when the funder’s interests and the organization’s interests don’t completely align?

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Power, Influence, and the Limits of Maps: A Response to Yehuda Kurtzer

Originally published in eJewish Philanthropy.

In his article, “‘The Establishment’ Has No Clothes: The New Jewish ‘Influence Economy,’” the always brilliant and thoughtful Yehuda Kurtzer raises intriguing points and does the Jewish communal world a great service by calling attention to the fact that the way we too commonly discuss our communal structures is woefully out of date.

I’d like to add a few angles to this conversation about the “economy of power,” without which our understanding of that new reality will be incomplete.

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Arts & Culture for Driving Social Change

Arts and culture are the natural habitat of the human heart and mind. Culture frames, reflects, exposes, enhances, and changes everything about the lives and actions of people and societies, and the arts play a vital role in how cultures evolve.

For funders who want to drive social change, therefore, arts and culture are a powerful and under-appreciated vector.

This video features three leaders engaging deeply with arts and culture to make change for a webinar in which we'll discuss their work in particular and principles of social change through culture in general.

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